19 June 2012

Odysseus, Siddhartha, Dorothy

The latest New York Times Book Review has an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, about her reading. Among the questions:
What were your favorite books as a child? Did you have a favorite character or hero?

The complete “Wizard of Oz” series, by L. Frank Baum. Over the course of those 14 books, stalwart Dorothy Gale triumphs, step by step, through precisely what Joseph Campbell would later call “the hero’s journey.” I think Dorothy may be the only little Midwestern girl you could ever put in the same archetypal category as Odysseus or Siddhartha. She was absolutely totemic for me.
Dorothy doesn’t appear in The Marvelous Land of Oz, and plays a supporting role in some other books, but she truly is an archetype. As well as a regular little girl.

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